13 March 2015

TV: Banana viii

And so we come to the end of Cucumber's little sister show. Banana has come in eight weird and wonderfully diverse packages, topped off with a callback to both the third episode of the series, and the last two of Cucumber. But you needn't have see any of those three marvellous pieces of television to enjoy this spellbinding climax. 

Vanessa is a contract industrial cleaner, who employs Jonjo to source labour. Many of his subjects are of course immigrants, but these are young girls from Africa. When one reaches out to Vanessa, telling her what he's done, and asking for help, there's a caustic reaction to say the least. From Vanessa's good nature in Sue Perkins' excellent episode earlier this series, viewers can be fairly confident that she'll make things right in the end somehow. 

Over the course of fifteen minutes or so, dedicated entirely to strong actresses Lynn Hunter and Nikki Fagbemi, the pair learn to communicate in a method transcending language. Vanessa is furious that Zara has told her about it. She's known about it for years, but now the hard decision comes as she's forced into action by the rules of television. There's a lovely little number at the end too. And there's a sting in the tale that'll leave you with a massive grin across your face.

It must be said that this episode really doesn't fit the format established by the preceding seven, including two by Davies himself. In a way, it resembles the others in that it forces the protagonist/s to take a stand and do what they feel is right. But there's no love story here. In our last ever visit to the Calico Flats, they're transformed and there's hope on the horizon for Vanessa's workers, with the possibility of moving in.

Banana's been an odd little series, often only loosely linked to the main show, but I've loved it. It's delivered exceptional drama, admittedly not quite on the scale of Cucumber, but great nonetheless. It's pushed the boundaries of modern TV, and has been unashamedly frank in its storytelling. The best four episodes for me were the first three (chronicling Dean, Scotty and Sian) and the sixth (written by and starring Charlie Covell) but there's been moments in all of them that I've liked.

I'm very grateful to everyone who worked on this interesting little series for brightening the TV landscape. While change will inevitably slow, hopefully this series, along with its sister programme, have started something of a revolution. That said, Queer  as Folk made barely any lasting impact, as well as that was received. We can live in hope. If this was all it was meant to be, that's still great. 

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